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Self-care among older adults

  • Psychology


Defining self-care as treatment for a perceived symptom, this paper posits that explanations for such illness behavior will differ depending on whether symptoms experienced are perceived as not serious and most amenable to self-treatment or more serious and less likely to respond to self-care. Borrowing from the Health Belief Model, two major concepts, a health set (consisting of five measures of perceived physical and mental health) and an attitude set (comprising four indicators of belief in physician efficacy) are included to explain rates of self-care across all reported symptoms. Self-care rate, calculated as the percentage of experienced symptoms self-treated without professional advice, was slightly higher for persons whose symptoms were seen as less serious. Measures of self-assessed health were related to self-care for those less severe symptoms, while lower faith in doctors as well as health were more closely related to the ailments perceived as more serious. Implications of the results for further studies are discussed.

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